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Cthulhu is a fictional monster created by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft that is often depicted as a large cephalopod-like creature with a tentacled mouth, large wings, clawed hands and scaly skin. The correct pronunciation of Cthulhu has long been debated, but “KAH-THOO-LOO” or “CHA-THOO-LAH” are commonly used. In The Call of Cthulhu, Lovecraft states that the name is impossible for the human tongue to accurately pronounce. (See also: Oh God! I Can See Forever!, Zalgo)
Cthulhu first appeared in the short story The Call of Cthulhu, which was published in the February, 1928 edition of Weird Tales, a fantasy/horrific magazine that ran from 1923 to 1954. The monster was inspired by the Alfred Lord Tennyson poem ‘The Kraken’ which is about an enormous squid that rests at the bottom of the sea. In Weird Tales, Cthulhu was established as a malevolent super-natural being trapped in R’lyeh, a fictional underwater city with non-Euclidean architecture. In the mythos, the demi-god is described as, “an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature…. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque scaly body with rudimentary wings.” His status is described as “dead, but dreaming” which is reiterated in a message commonly found in the Cthulhu Mythos “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn”, translated as “in his house at R’lyeh sleeping Cthulhu waits dreaming.”
Cthulhu remained relatively unknown until after Lovecraft’s death when “The ’Lovecraft Circle”, a group of writers that included August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith, continued to write stories inspired by Lovecraft’s alien entities that would drive humans insane. August Derleth, Lovecraft’s first publisher and close friend, expanded on Lovecraft’s vision by creating an entire cosmology which included a war between the Elder Gods and the Outer Gods (including Cthulhu). This was controversial to some since Lovecraft only used Cthulhu as a vague plot device. In Derleth’s canon, Cthulhu was locked up beneath the ocean after losing a battle with a group of “good” Gods.
The image blog Lolthulhu regularly posts various LOLcat inspired Cthulhu image macros. On Tumblr Cthulhu related posts can be found on Fuck Yeah Cthulhu, Oh No Cthulhu, and under the #cthulhu tag search. On deviantArt, several pages worth of fan art can be found under the tag “cthulhu.” Cthulhu has a Facebook fan page with 170,672 likes, a subreddit with 646 readers, and a fan Twitter account with 2,580 followers as of September 8th, 2011.
Cthulhu appeared in two South Park episodes during Season 14: Episode 12, Coon 2: Hindsight and Episode 13, Mysterion Rises. After the DP oil company drills a hole in the Gulf into another dimension, they try to fix the problem by drilling a hole on the moon to change its gravitational pull on Earth, summoning Cthulhu in the process. The following quote is from a news reporter in the episode:
Cthulhu is expected to reign over the Earth in a dark period of around over 3000 years, during which he would drive the world to madness and enslave humanity as members of his cults.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth is a first-person adventure based on the Cthulhu mythos created by Headfirst Productions in 2005. While several earlier Cthulhu titles have appeared on computer platforms, Dark Corners of the Earth was the first original Cthulhu game since 1995. Blending action, horror, and adventure, the game features Jack Walters, a former police detective from Boston who must battle the forces of evil in 1920’s New England. Two additional Cthulhu Mythos games were planned by Headfirst Productions including Call of Cthulhu: Destiny’s End. However, Headfirst went bankrupt and was liquidated in 2006.
Cthulhu Saves the World
Cthulhu Saves The World is a game designed to look as if it were a 1990’s Japanese RPG. The game begins with Cthulhu waking from his slumber ready to plunge the world into insanity and destruction when suddenly his powers are sealed by a mysterious sorcerer. The only way for him to break the curse is to become a “true hero”, so Cthulhu has to save the world in order to destroy it. Developed by Zeboyd Games in 2010, the game is available to download on Steam and the Xbox Live Indie Game Section.
The Call of Cthulhu, an indie movie directed by Andrew Leman, has been regarded as the best adaptation of Lovecraft’s work to ever reach the screen. It was funded and spread by the Lovecraft Historical Society, a group who produced Cthulhu media under the labels of Mythoscope for video and Mythophone for music.
Cthulhu in Music
There have been several musical tributes to Lovecraft, the majority of them being dark instrumentals. Some notable works include: Kutulu by Mercyful Fate, the album Necronomicon by Nox Arcana, Cthulhu Sleeps by Deadmau5, and the songs Call of Ktulu and Thing That Should Not Be by Metallica. Sombre Soniks spin-off label, Temple of Azathoth, is scheduled to release the first of ten cd sets in their Musik-Magik-Madness series in March 2012, featuring dark ambient music projects such as Vultures Quartet and Akoustik Timbre Frekuency, and with voice actor Jake Harders reading Lovecraft stories over some of the material.
A musical parodying Fiddler on the Roof entitled Shoggoth on the Roof was produced by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. However, there have been many legal difficulties, preventing the play from becoming a commercial success.
Dr. Seuss Fan Art
On September 29th, 2011, deviantArt user DrFaustusAU uploaded a short illustrated version of H.P. Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu, drawn in similar style to the American cartoonist Dr. Seuss. The images were posted to several blogs including i09, ology, Geeks are Sexy and Laughing Squid. The entire series can be viewed in the image gallery.
Laughing Squid – The Call of Cthulhu as a Dr. Seuss Style Children’s Book